Thursday, July 31, 2008


The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of early Christian Gnostic texts discovered near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945.A codex (Latin for block of wood, book; plural codices) is a book in the format used for modern books, with separate pages normally bound together and given a cover. It was a Roman invention that replaced the scroll, which was the first form of book in all Eurasian cultures.

Although technically any modern paperback is a codex, the term is only used for manuscript (hand-written) books, produced from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages. The scholarly study of manuscripts from the point of view of the bookmaking craft is called codicology. The study of ancient documents in general is called paleography.

New World codices were written as late as the sixteenth century. Those written before the Spanish conquests seem all to have been single long sheets folded concertina-style, sometimes written on both sides of the local amatl paper. They are therefore strictly speaking not actually in codex format, although they more consistently have "Codex" in their usual names than other types of manuscript.

The codex was an improvement upon the scroll, which it gradually replaced, first in the West, and much later in Asia. The codex in turn became the printed book, for which the term is not used. In China, because books were already printed, but only on one side of the paper, there were intermediate stages, such as scrolls folded concertina-style and pasted together at the back.


Tribe of Judah

Territories of the 12 tribes of Israel, before the move of Dan to the northThe Tribe of Judah (hebrew: יְהוּדָה, "praise";) is one of the Hebrew tribes of Israel, founded by Judah, son of Jacob. (see also sons of Jacob)

Together with the Tribe of Benjamin, descendants of Judah eventually formed the southern kingdom of Judah in the ancient land of Israel, when the kingdom of Israel was divided. These two tribes were thus not carried into captivity with the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel when it fell. This started the tradition (some say myth) of the ten lost tribes of Israel.

As the Tribe of Benjamin was always very much the minor partner, in time the tribe of Judah became identified with the entire Israelite nation, and even the entire Hebrew nation, and gave their name to the Jews.

Judah and his three surviving sons went down with Jacob into Ancient Egypt (Gen. 46:12; Ex. 1:2). At the time of the Exodus, when we meet with the family of Judah again, they have increased to the number of 74,600 males (Num. 1:26-27).


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Alexander the Great

Bust of Alexander (Roman copy of a 330 BCE statue by Lysippus, Louvre Museum). According to Diodorus, the Alexander sculptures by Lysippus were the most faithfulAlexander the Great (in Greek Μέγας Αλέξανδρος, transliterated Megas Alexandros) (Alexander III of Macedon) was born in Pella, Macedon, in July, 356 BC, died in Babylon, on June 10, 323 BC, King of Macedon 336–323 BC, is considered one of the most successful military commanders in world history (if not the greatest), conquering most of the known world before his death.

Alexander is also known in the Zoroastrian Middle Persian work Arda Wiraz Nāmag as "the accursed Alexander" due to his conquest of the Persian Empire and the destruction of its capital Persepolis.

He is also known in Middle Eastern traditions as Dhul-Qarnayn in Arabic and Dul-Qarnayim in Hebrew and Aramaic (the two-horned one) (see also: Aramaic of Jesus), apparently due to an image on coins minted during his rule that seemingly depicted him with the two ram's horns of the Egyptian god Ammon.

He is known as Sikandar in Hindi; in fact in India, the term Sikandar is used as a synonym for "expert" or "extremely skilled"; in the Malay Language he is known as Iskandar Zulkarnain.

Following the unification of the multiple city-states of ancient Greece under the rule of his father, Philip II of Macedon, (a labor Alexander had to repeat twice because the southern Greeks rebelled after Philip's death), Alexander conquered the Persian Empire, including Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Gaza, Egypt, Bactria and Mesopotamia and extended the boundaries of his own empire as far as the Punjab. Alexander integrated foreigners (non-Macedonians, non-Greeks1) into his army and administration, leading some scholars to credit him with a "policy of fusion." He encouraged marriage between his army and foreigners, and practiced it himself. After twelve years of constant military campaigning, Alexander died, possibly of malaria, typhoid, or even viral encephalitis. His conquests ushered in centuries of Greek settlement and rule over foreign areas, a period known as the Hellenistic Age. Alexander himself lived on in the history and myth of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. Already during his lifetime, and especially after his death, his exploits inspired a literary tradition in which he appears as a towering legendary hero in the tradition of Achilles.


the 95 theses

A replica of the 95 Theses in Schlosskirche, WittenbergThe Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, known as the 95 Theses, (from 31 October 1517) challenged the teachings of the Church on the nature of penance, the authority of the pope and the usefulness of indulgences. They sparked a theological debate that would result in the Reformation and the birth of the Lutheran, Reformed, and Anabaptist traditions within Christianity.

The background for Luther's Theses centers on particular disputes with the Church dealing with the offering of indulgences—the granting of penance for sin. In short, the practice of giving indulgences became somewhat commoditized (with relics) and then commercialized, contributing to what Luther felt was an offense to Holy salvation among Catholics who felt they could find absolution through purchase rather than merit or grace.

The Castle Church in Wittenberg in the Roman Empire held one of Europe's largest collections of religious artifacts, accumulated by Frederick III.

At that time viewing relics was purported to allow the viewer to receive relief from temporal punishment for sins in purgatory. By 1509 Frederick had over 5,000 relics, "including vials of the milk of the Virgin Mary, straw from the manger [of Jesus], and the body of one of the innocents massacred by King Herod."


Sunday, July 27, 2008


Polycarp of Smyrna (martyred in his 87th year, ca. 155–167) was a Christian bishop of Smyrna (now Izmir in Turkey) in the 2nd century He died a martyr when he was stabbed and his corpse burned at the stake in Smyrna, and is recognized as a saint in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. "He had been a disciple of John, and opinions differ as to whether this John was the son of Zebedee, or John the Presbyter" (Lake 1912). Traditional advocates follow Eusebius in insisting that the apostolic connection was with John the Evangelist, and that the author of the Gospel of John was the Apostle. Polycarp never quotes from the Gospel of John in his own writings, which may be an indication that whichever John he knew was not the author of that gospel, or that that gospel was not finished during Polycarp's discipleship with John.

Visit to Anicetus, Bishop of Rome

Polycarp visited Rome during the time of his fellow Syrian, Anicetus, Bishop of Rome, in the 150s or 160s, and they might have found their customs for observing the Christian Passover differed, Polycarp following the eastern practice of celebrating Passover on the 14th of Nisan, the day of the Jewish Passover, regardless of what day of the week it falls.


Friday, July 25, 2008

The AIDS Crisis

HIV prevalence from national population-based surveys in countries in West and Central Africa, 2003-2007 © Joint United Nations Programe on HIV/AIDS(UNAIDS) and World Health Organization (WHO) 2007Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS or Aids) is a collection of symptoms and infections in humans resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The late stage of the condition leaves individuals prone to opportunistic infections and tumors. Although treatments for AIDS and HIV exist to slow the virus's progression, there is no known cure.

HIV is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid, and breast milk.

This transmission can come in the form of anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids.

Most researchers believe that HIV originated in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century; it is now a pandemic, with an estimated 38.6 million people now living with the disease worldwide.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


The Anointing of Jesus, by William Hole, 1906To anoint is to grease with perfumed oil, milk, water, melted butter or other substances, a process employed ritually by many religions and races. It also means to be in the presence of God. People and things are anointed to symbolize the introduction of a sacramental or divine influence, a holy emanation, spirit or power. It can also be seen as a spiritual mode of ridding persons and things of dangerous influences and diseases, especially of the demons (Persian drug, Greek κηρες, Armenian dev) which are believed to be or cause those diseases.

Unction is another term for anointing. The oil may be called chrism.

The word is known in English since c. 1303, deriving from Old French enoint "smeared on," pp. of enoindre "smear on," itself from Latin inunguere, from in- "on" + unguere "to smear." Originally it only referred to grease or oil smeared on for medicinal purposes; its use in the Coverdale Bible in reference to Christ (cf. The Lord's Anointed, see Chrism) has spiritualized the sense of it.

Because of its "smeared on" root, the word is also used for the unique practice by hedgehogs of coating their quills with a froth when encountering new smells or tastes in their environment.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Temple of Herod

Robinson’s Arch - remains of the entrance built by Herod to the Royal ColonnadeHerod's Temple (The Temple of Herod) in Jerusalem was a massive expansion of the Second Temple along with renovations of the entire Temple Mount. Herod the Great's expansion project began around 19 BCE. The renovation by Herod began with the building of giant underground vaults upon which the temple would be built so it could be larger than the small flat area on top of Mount Moriah. Ground level at the time was at least 20 ft. (6m) below the current level, as can be seen by walking the Western Wall tunnels. The edge of this platform remains everywhere; part of it forms the Western Wall.

In 1948, Jordan destroyed the Jewish Quarter and much more of the wall was revealed along the southern side. Although we have no biblical information regarding this enormous temple, we do know that in the 49th year of its building program, Jesus' body ("His Temple") was destroyed, (John 2:20). 49-years is 7 x 7, which is a Jubilee.
15 And making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade." 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."

18 So the Jews said to him, "What sign do you show us for doing these things?" 19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?" (John 20:15-20 ESV)

The literal temple was destroyed 40 years later, in AD 70.


Sunday, July 20, 2008


Expulsion of Ishmael and His Mother. Part of Art by Gustave Doré.Ishmael or Yishma'el (יִשְׁמָעֵאל "God hears or obeys") is Abraham's eldest son, born by his servant Hagar. Ishmael the son of Abraham, is first mentioned in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Genesis as the eldest son of Abraham by Hagar, Sarah's female Egyptian maid-servant or slave.

In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), Ishmael's life is described in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 16, 17, 21, 25) and later texts. In Genesis 16 Sarai (Abram's wife) gives him her maid-servant Hagar to bear him children, since she believed that God had kept her from having children (Genesis 16:2).

Hagar became pregnant and despised Sarai (Genesis 16:4) who then expelled Hagar from the home of Abraham in retaliation.

Hagar fled from Sarai and ran into the desert, where an angel found her near a spring. Here the prophecy of Ishmael is recorded in Genesis 16:
11 "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael ("God hears"), for the Lord has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."


Thursday, July 17, 2008


The Schøyen Collection MS 206, Oslo and London. Hebrew square book script. Iraq, 1st half of 11th c. MS in Hebrew and Aramaic on vellum, Iraq, first half of 11th c., 8 ff., 39x33 cm, 2 columns, (25x25 cm), 23 lines in a large Hebrew square book script, by a scribe perhaps originating from the Maghreb (North Africa probably Tunisia). Provenance: 1. The Genizah of a Kurdistan Jewish community, North Iraq (until 1950/59); 2. Dr. Fischel, U.S.A.(from 1950/59; 3. Bernard Rosenthal, San Francisco. Commentary: The Aramaic translation is verse by verse. Among the earliest group of surviving Hebrew targum Bible MSS in codex form. Exhibited: XVI Congress of the International Organization for the study of the Old Testament. Library of Law Faculty, University of Oslo, 29 July - 7 August 1998. Elizabeth G. Sørenssen & Jingru Høivik: photography and formatting. The text covers Exodus 12:25-31, beginning in Hebrew with the second word. The first word is the end of the Aramaic Targum of v.24; The Targum of v.31 is not complete, presumably continuing on the next page.The (Greek: "departure") book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah (the Pentateuch Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy;) and also the Tanakh (the Hebrew bible), and Christian old testament. The major events of the book concern the exodus, a departure of Hebrew slaves from Egypt, through the wilderness, under the leadership of Moses to the Mountain of God (Mount Sinai). Jews call the book by its first words ve-eleh shemoth (i.e., "and these are the names") or simply "shemoth" שמות. The septuagint designates the second book of the Pentateuch as "exodus", meaning "departure" or "out-going".

The Latin translation adopted the name, which thence passed into other languages. As a result of the theme of the first half of the book, the term "an exodus" has come to mean a departure of a great number of people.

The book is generally broken into six sections:

  1. The account of the growth of the Israelites into a peoples, their enslavement in Egypt, and eventual escape (Chapters 1-12);
  2. The journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai (Chapters 13-18);
  3. The formation of a covenant between Yahweh and the people, and its associated laws (Chapters 19-24);
  4. Intricate instructions for the construction of a tabernacle, priestly robes, and other ritual objects (Chapters 25-31);
  5. The episode of the golden calf, and the regiving of the law (Chapters 32-34);
  6. The construction of the tabernacle, priestly robes, and other ritual objects (Chapters 35-40).


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A New Theory of the Earth

William WhistonA New Theory of the Earth was a book written by William Whiston, in which he presented a description of the divine creation of the Earth and a posited global flood. He also postulated that the earth originated from the atmosphere of a comet and that all major changes in earth's history could be attributed to the action of comets. It was published in 1696 and was well-received by intellectuals of the day such as Isaac Newton and John Locke.

Summary of the book

The book is organized as follows:
  • Introduction, discussing the text of Creation according to Genesis
  • Book I: Lematta, discussing the premises and assumptions on which his argument is based;
  • Book II: Hypotheses, discussing his model for the origin of the Earth;
  • Book III: Phaenomena, discussing evidence predicted by his model;
  • Book IV: Solutions, discussing how his model explains the evidence;
  • Appendix: An abstract of his theory drawn from various sources.


In the introduction, Whiston discusses the Mosaic account of creation. He argues for a literal interpretation of Genesis, writing:


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

historicity of Jesus

Jesus, aged 12, teaching the doctors of the FaithThe historicity of Jesus (i.e., his existence as an actual historical figure), is accepted as a theological axiom by three world religions, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá’í Faith, based on their respective scriptures.

The earliest known sources are Christian writings - the New Testament - which, according to modern historians, were written only 20-30 years after Jesus died.

However, while Christianity considers Jesus to be the Christ (Messiah) and Son of God, and Islam views him only as a prophet, secular historians and followers of most other world religions (including Judaism) tend to regard him as an ordinary human. Messianic Judaism, however, also considers Jesus (Yeshua HaMashiach) to be the Jewish Messiah.

Most scholars, however, agree that Jesus was an historical figure regardless of their perspectives on His teaching, His message of salvation, or statements about Himself.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Messianic Judaism

The Baruch Hashem Messianic Synagogue in Dallas, TexasMessianic Judaism is a religious movement of Jews and non-Jews whose adherents believe that Jesus of Nazareth, whom they call by the Hebrew name Yeshua, is both the resurrected Jewish Messiah and their divine savior.

As of 1993 there were 160,000 adherents of Messianic Judaism in the United States and 350,000 worldwide. As of 2003, there were at least 150 Messianic synagogues in the U.S. and over 400 worldwide.

Messianic Jews practice their faith in a way they consider to be authentically Torah-observant and culturally Jewish. However, Jews of all denominations and many Christians do not consider Messianic Judaism to be a form of Judaism, but a form of Christianity.

Self identity

Although words used to identify aspects of Messianic Judaism are frequently disputed and sometimes contradictory, the term itself generally describes a belief that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and that obedience of the Scriptures is the proper expression of faith. Adherents are described as Messianic believers or Messianics for short. Messianic Judaism is a relatively new term, coined as recently as 1895 to help separate the practices of its followers from those of common Christianity as a whole, and in order to more closely align its faith with that of biblical and historical Judaism.

Messianics believe that the first followers of Jesus of Nazareth were called Nazarenes (in Hebrew, Notzrim; "נצרים") or simply the Way.


Friday, July 11, 2008

William F. Albright

William F. AlbrightWilliam Foxwell Albright (May 24, 1891–September 19/September 20, 1971) was an American Orientalist, pioneer archaeologist, biblical scholar, linguist and expert on ceramics. From the early twentieth century until his death, he was the dean of biblical archaeologists and the universally acknowledged founder of the Biblical archaeology movement. His student George Ernest Wright followed in his footsteps as the leader of that movement, while others, notably Frank Moore Cross and David Noel Freedman, became international leaders in the study of the Bible and the ancient Near East, including Northwest Semitic epigraphy and paleography. Nevertheless, although Albright is assured of a place in the history of the development of Middle Eastern archaeology, his concepts and conclusions, especially those relating to biblical archaeology, have been overturned by developments after his death.

Albright argued that the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were real historical figures, and he believed that Joshua's exploits were historical as well. He insisted that "as a whole, the picture in Genesis is historical, and there is no reason to doubt the general accuracy of the biographical details."

In 1923 he made the first significant excavation of a tumulus near Jerusalem--possibly the site where an ancient king of Judah was memorialized. Another noteworthy contribution he made to the field of Biblical archaeology was his study of the LMLK seals and the impact it had on other researchers from 1925-1960 (Grena, 2004, pp. 149-78).


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Legend of the True Cross - the Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon; (c. 1452-66, Fresco, San Francesco, Arezzo, Italy)Solomon (Latin name) or Shlomo (Hebrew: שְׁלֹמֹה, Arabic: سليمان, Sulayman; "peace") was Israel's third king, son of King David, who's
30 "...wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt." (1 Kings 4:30)
The names "Shlomo" and "Solomon" are usually associated with the Biblical account of his life.

The First Temple

Solomon's Temple (Hebrew: בית המקדש, transliterated Beit HaMikdash), also known as the First Temple, was, according to the Bible, the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It functioned as a religious focal point for worship and the sacrifices known as the korbanot (see korban) in ancient Judaism. Completed in the 10th century BCE, it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

Before his death King David had provided materials in great abundance for the building of the temple on the summit of Mount Moriah (1 Chronicles 22:14; 29:4; 2 Chronicles 3:1), where he had purchased a threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite (2 Sam. 24:21 et seq.), on which he offered sacrifice.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Moses names Joshua his successorJoshua or Yehoshúa (יְהוֹשֻׁעַ "The LORD of/is help/court") is a Biblical character, much of whose life is described in the biblical Book of Joshua. The lack of a vav after the shin would normally indicate a pronunciation of Yehoshēa`, and in three places he is actually called Hoshēa. In Greek he is called Ιησούς (Iēsoûs) του Ναυή, the same as the name of Jesus of Nazareth and others bearing the Hebrew name Yēshua`. He is a historical figure, and would have lived sometime between the 18th century BC and the late 13th century BC.

Joshua was the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim and the successor to Moses as the leader of Israel. See also History of ancient Israel and Judah. He is called Jehoshua in Num. 13:16 (A.V.), and Jesus in Acts 7:45 and Heb. 4:8 (R.V., Joshua).

He was born in Egypt, and was probably of the age of Caleb, with whom he is generally associated. He shared in all the events of the Exodus, and held the place of commander of the host of the Israelites at their great battle against the Amalekites in Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-16).

He became Moses' minister, and accompanied him part of the way when he ascended Mount Sinai to receive the (Exodus 32:17). He was also one of the twelve spies who were sent on by Moses to explore the land of Canaan (Num. 13:16, 17), and only he and Caleb gave an encouraging report.


Monday, July 07, 2008


The Sefirot in Jewish KabbalahKabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה; standard vocalization: Qabbala; Tiberian vocalization: Qabbālāh; literally a "receiving" in the sense of a "received tradition") is an esoteric form of Jewish mysticism, which attempts to reveal hidden mystical insights in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). It offers mystical insight into divine nature.

The term "Kabbalah" was originally used in Talmudic texts (see Talmud), among the Geonim (early medieval rabbis) and by Rishonim (later medieval rabbis) as a reference to the full body of the oral tradition of Jewish teaching, which was publicly available.

Even the works of Prophets were referred to as Kabbalah, before they were cannonized (see biblical canon) as part of the written tradition. In this sense Kabbalah was used in referring to all of Judaism's oral law. Over time, the oral law was recorded, but the esoteric teachings remained an oral tradition. Thus, this term became connected with doctrines of esoteric knowledge concerning God, God's creation of the universe and the laws of nature, reasons for the commandments in the Torah and the ways by which God administers the existence of the universe. Now, even the esoteric teachings of the Torah are recorded, but it is still known as Kabbalah.

According to Jewish tradition Kabbalah dates from Adam, although modern liberal rabbis date its origins in the 13th century. This knowledge has come down as a revelation to elect saints from a remote past, and for the most part, was preserved only by a privileged few. The proper protocol for teaching this wisdom, as well as many of its concepts, are recorded in the Talmud (second chapter of tractate Haggiga). It is considered part of the Jewish oral law by the majority of religious Jews in modern times, although this is not agreed upon by many modern liberal rabbis and a minority of Orthodox rabbis.


Friday, July 04, 2008

The Word

The Sermon On the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch, Danish painter, d. 1890.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3 ESV)
Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE) is the central figure of Christianity. He is also called Jesus Christ, where "Jesus" is an Anglicization of the Greek: Ίησους (Iēsous), itself a Hellenization of the Hebrew יהושע (Yehoshua) or Aramaic ישוע (Yeshua), meaning "YHVH is salvation"; and where "Christ" is a title derived from the Greek christós, meaning the "Anointed One," which corresponds to the Hebrew-derived "Messiah." Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, and the prophesied Hebrew Messiah (Anointed One, deliverer of Israel). Jesus is also known as "Jesus Christ", "Jesus of Nazareth", and "Jesus the Nazarene."

Christian views of Jesus (known as Christology) are both diverse and complex. Most Christians are Trinitarian and affirm the Nicene Creed, believing that Jesus is both the Son of God and God made incarnate1, sent to provide salvation and reconciliation with God by atoning for the sins of humanity (see also Christian worldview).

The most detailed accounts of Jesus' birth are contained in the Gospel of Matthew (probably written between 60 and 85 AD/CE) and the Gospel of Luke (probably written between 60 and 100 AD/CE). There is considerable debate about the details of Jesus' birth even among Christian scholars, and few scholars claim to know either the year or the date of his birth or of his death.





Blog Archive

Desiring God Blog

Youth for Christ International